Once a year, the braintrust at the rap magazine XXL picks a group of up-and-coming rappers and puts them all together for a photoshoot and a series of videos. That group of rappers, known as the Freshman Class, is generally supposed to represent the magazine’s best idea of which new rappers seem destined for success. The magazine has a not-terrible success rate, and many of the most popular rappers currently working have appeared on that XXL Freshman class issue — some of them as recently as last year.
This afternoon, XXL unveiled this year’s cover and this year’s list of Freshmen. This time around, none of them are really obscure at all, and all of them have hits. One of them, Jack Harlow, is currently sitting at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. So there aren’t a lot of shocking inclusions this time around. As always, some of these rappers are better than others, and some of the picks seem cannier than others. Here’s this year’s list of 12:
XXL reports that Pop Smoke was going to be one of this year’s Freshmen before he was murdered in February.